Professional sports are either loved or hated; there is no medium to be met when it comes to athletic competition. One either watches or changes the channel; cheers or jeers. The “casual fan” will tune in when it matters and justify his watching of the Super Bowl as “a can't miss game.” However, where was this person in September when the season was new and the weekly warriors took to the field to do battle?
The “casual fan” is not a fan at all, just a person who needs to know the conclusion. The one who reads the final page of a novel and disregards the growth of the story. Without question, the fans – the true fans – help define their favorite sports. Without the spectators, there would be no need to compete at such a high-strung level. The fans pay and pray and find themselves locked within the journey towards championship glory with each sport establishing its own unique definition.
In professional baseball, Babe Ruth would hit 714 home runs throughout his career; until Hank Aaron came along and hit 755 long balls throughout his playing days. Then of course Barry Bonds would jack (while jacked on juice) 762 round-trip-hits and claim the top spot as baseball's all-time home run leader. Cy Young would accumulate 511 career wins as a pitcher while Joe DiMaggio would put together a 56-game hitting streak during the 1941 MLB season – two accomplishments that have stood the test of time. These are the records that have helped define professional baseball.
Much of the same can be said for the professional wrestling industry as certain records have helped make the business what it is today. And although one can argue that these records lack an real integrity due to the predetermined nature of their being; one may also argue that a a man on performance enhancing drugs and hitting over 700 career home runs also lacks integrity.
The following list will piece together the wrestling records that have helped leave an indelible mark on the business.
These are the top 20 professional wrestling records that have helped define the industry:
20 John Cena: 12-Time WWE Champion
People love him and people hate him but the one constant about John Cena is that he has remained as the constant in WWE for the past decade. Almost every big match and angle have involved Cena in some capacity.
John Cena won the World Heavyweight Championship three times throughout his WWE career – a title that was not WWE-made. When it comes to the WWE Championship – which many have proclaimed to be the most coveted wrestling title in all the industry – nobody has held that gold more than Cena.
John Cena has won the WWE Championship an impressive 12-times … and counting.
19 Goldberg: 173-0
During its existence, WCW managed to get a lot of things wrong. However, one thing they got right was the push of former professional football player Bill Goldberg – a company creation that helped WCW soar even farther above WWE.
Goldberg was not a technicality-sound professional wrestler. Goldberg didn't fly off ropes and turnbuckles or pull out an arsenal of submission holds. Goldberg came, crushed, won, and walked away. The formula worked.
According to WCW records (the number has been questioned), Goldberg won 173 consecutive matches before losing to Kevin Nash.
18 The Sandman: 5-Time ECW Champion
ECW has always been an acquired taste but those who enjoyed the product enjoyed it a lot. ECW was the alternative to everything considered “normal” in professional wrestling which provided fans with the opportunity to savor something different.
During its infancy, ECW may have been overlooked and under appreciated but that did not stop the promotion from flourishing. ECW grew like a fungus on the professional wrestling world – something too foul to ignore.
ECW lives within the record books of professional wrestling; whether traditionalists like it or not where a vile individual known as The Sandman holds the record as a 5-time ECW Champion.
17 Demolition: 478 Days as World Tag Team Champions
Tag team wrestling is an old-school twist on the traditional wrestling bout where the usual one-on-one competition is replaced with opposing teams; each consisting of two individual wrestlers (the basic format of tag team wrestling).
During the late '80s in WWE; a new tag team consisting of Ax and Smash, collectively known as Demolition, were introduced. However, many critics considered the new duo as a ripoff of The Road Warriors due to their painted faces, ring attire, and brash attitudes.
Nevertheless, Demolition would go o to become one of the most legendary tag team in WWE history. The team remains as the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in WWE history at 478 days.
16 Rob Van Dam: 700 Days as ECW Television Champion
Over the years, a number of wrestling promotions have presented a Television Champion to their audience. In most cases, the TV title would serve as a secondary championship and was defended at the mid-card level.
ECW would have their own Television Championship which was first established under the National Wrestling Alliance banner when the “E” stood for “Eastern” and not “Extreme.” However, the title remained with the promotion following the change.
The most successful holder of the ECW Television Championship was perhaps the most popular ECW talent on the roster: Rob Van Dam; who would hold the belt for a total of 700 days.
15 Stone Cold Steve Austin: 3-Time Royal Rumble Winner
The Royal Rumble match has become an annual tradition in WWE and has been used to help shape the card for WrestleMania. The victor of the Royal Rumble guarantees himself a shot at the WWE Championship.
In the past, the Royal Rumble match has been used to launch red-hot performers into Superstar status. The match is always exciting to watch and outlasting your opponents to win it all means you are on your way up within the company (there have been exceptions).
Stone Cold Steve Austin – the greatest WWE Superstar of all time – has won the Royal Rumble match more than anybody else with a total of three career victories.
14 Triple H: Most Time Spent in the Royal Rumble
Now that we have established the importance of the Royal Rumble and the effect it has had on WWE history, let's dive deeper into the subject and focus on one particular individual who has certainly spent enough time competing in the match.
Triple H has only won the Royal Rumble match once (2002) but his presence has been felt more than any other Superstar who has ever drawn a number to enter the contest. The Game has been the workhorse of the Royal Rumble.
Triple H has spent the longest cumulative time of 3:51:32 in the Royal Rumble match – more time than anybody else in WWE history.
13 Andre the Giant: 15-Year Undefeated Streak
Andre the Giant was known as “The Eight Wonder of the World” for a reason. Andre was a legitimate, living giant which is why the professional wrestling world seemed like a fitting place for Andre to call home.
While the exact numbers are unclear, WWE claims that Andre the Giant spent the first 15 years of his career undefeated. This could be a false statement but the folklore that surrounded the career of this giant was enough to make it believable.
This record may be riddled with uncertainty but remains a huge part of professional wrestling history.
12 Ed Lewis vs. Joe Stecher: Longest Match
In the early part of the 20th century, professional wrestling was more of a carnival act than the massive attraction it is today. The moves were simple and the pace was slow; the high-flyer was still many, many years away.
There was once a time when wrestling World Champions would travel the territories and perform hour-long matches. In the mainstream product of today, half an hour matches are rarely seen. Times have changed; literally and figuratively.
July 4th, 1916: Ed “The Strangler” Lewis vs. Joe Stecher would end in a 5 ½ hour draw.
11 WrestleMania XXVIII Buyrate
WrestleMania is now a worldwide phenomenon. The biggest wrestling event of the year where people from all over the globe converged to witness the magic of that one special Sunday that feels like a violent kind of Christmas.
WrestleMania XXVIII from Miami, Florida was a night that wrestling fans would not soon forget. In a battle of generations, The Rock had return to the WWE to take on the new face of the company, John Cena. The implications were huge.
All told, WrestleMania XXVIII would do a 1,253,000 buyrate; the most buys all time.
10 The Fabulous Moolah: 28 Years as Women's Champion
The WWE Divas of today have a lot women to thank for paving the way for a female presence in a male dominated world. One of these women, The Fabulous Moolah, was a pioneer of female wrestling and helped set the standard for women moving forward in the industry.
According to the record books: The Fabulous Moolah held the Women's Championship for 28 years. Technically these 28 years were interrupted with title loses along the way. However, WWE chooses not to acknowledge these defeats. Therefore, the record stands.
Regardless of the obvious asterisk that sits beside this record, what The Fabulous Moolah accomplished during her professional wrestling career cannot be downgraded.
9 Hulk Hogan: Longest Reigning WCW Champion
Anybody who knows anything about professional wrestling – particularity WWE – will understand (like him or not) the importance of Hulk Hogan and how he helped the company reach levels its had never reached in the past.
However, when Hulk Hogan decided to join the competition, he would also help WCW reach new heights as the face of their promotion. Hulk Hogan joined the fight against WWE and did his part in trying to put his former employer out of business.
Hulk Hogan's time in WCW is a significant piece of wrestling history. During his stint, Hogan would set the record for longest reign as WCW Champion at 469 days.
8 Monday Nitro: 84 Week Winning Streak
Eric Bischoff brought the fight to Vince McMahon like nobody had ever done before during the Monday Night War. The battle lines were drawn early and Bischoff had no problem with attacking the enemy at any and all costs. The war was all about ratings and wrestling supremacy.
In 2001, Vince McMahon's army would defeat Eric Bischoff's troops and the war was finally over. WWE had triumphed over WCW and Vince McMahon was now officially – once and for all – the ruler of the wrestling world.
However, there was a time when Vince McMahon and WWE were on the ropes as WCW won the ratings battle for 84 consecutive weeks.
7 WrestleMania III: Largest Attendance
WrestleMania III is widely regarded as the one event that truly brought WWE above and beyond as it pertains to their status within the entertainment industry. This massive event would take place at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.
The main event that night would see WWE Champion Hulk Hogan place the title on the line against the “undefeated” Andre the Giant. The famous image of Hogan body slamming Andre remains a staple of WWE culture.
WrestleMania III would draw an attendance number of 93,173; which would hold as the largest attendance for an indoor sporting event in North America until the 2010 NBA All-Star Game (108,713).
6 The Main Event: Highest Rating
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant was a major success once and would prove to be again when the two men met in a highly-anticipated rematch for the WWE Championship on a televised special titled: “The Main Event.”
This time around the match was not nearly as exciting (not that the first match was that exhilarating) but the fans wanted it and their request was granted. The finish would involve a crooked twin referee screwing Hulk Hogan out of the title and Andre attempting to give the “World Tag Team Champion” to Ted DiBiase (Apparently, Andre didn't know which title he had actually captured).
Despite the bad finish and lack of luster involved with the match; the event drew a 15.2 television rating which translates to 33 million viewers.
5 Verne Gagne: AWA World Heavyweight Champion
The American Wrestling Association was once a fully-functional professional wrestling organization which was founded by Verne Gagne and Wally Karbo – the former an old-school wrestler; the latter an old-school promoter.
The AWA would house some of wrestling's all time greats including: Mad Dog Vachon, Curt Hennig, and even Hulk Hogan. Now, it may not seem proper to some that Verne Gagne held the AWA World Heavyweight Championship 10-times (most ever) throughout his career but such is the case.
Verne Gagne was one of the best and deserved the recognition. Aside from total title reigns, Gagne holds the record for longest AWA World Heavyweight Championship reign at 2625 days.
4 Lou Thesz: Longest Reigning NWA Champion
The National Wrestling Alliance was founded in 1948 as a governing body of independent wrestling promotions. The NWA was once regarded as the most prominent organization in all of professional wrestling.
However, the NWA would begin to break down within itself when the territorial system was compromised and the major promotions began to takeover the industry. While the NWA still exists, it is merely a shell of its former self.
The NWA World Heavyweight Championship was once the championship to hold and the record for longest reign belongs to wrestling legend Lou Thesz at 1,941 days.
3 The Undertaker: WrestleMania Undefeated Streak
WrestleMania XXX would mark the end of the greatest 'Mania streak ever assembled when Brock Lesnar defeated The Undertaker; handing The Deadman his first loss at the event and rendering his record to 21-1.
“The Streak” had become an all-important part of WrestleMania as year after year a new challenger would emerge and claim the he would be the one to place the first blemish on the spotless record. However, nobody could get the job done. That was until The Beast arrived and conquered the unconquerable.
The Undertaker has since defeated Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania; bumping his record up to 22-1.
2 Ric Flair: 16-Time World Champion
Ric Flair set the precedent for professional wrestlers. “The Nature Boy” helped redefine what it meant to be a wrestler. Flair took style and lack-of-grace to a whole new level. Being a “cool heel” was Flair's deal long before anybody else.
Throughout his illustrious career, Ric Flair was recognized 16-times as a professional wrestling World Champion. There has never been another – nor will there ever be – who can walk that aisle the way Flair knows how to strut.
The record for all-time championship victories will (sadly) be broken as John Cena is set to surpass Ric Flair in the not-too-distant future but that doesn't change the fact that Flair is The Man.
1 Bruno Sammartino: Longest Reigning WWE Champion
The WWE (World Heavyweight) Championship is the championship which every aspiring young wrestler hopes to attain. WWE is the company to work for if you want to earn money and gain mainstream exposure.
Bruno Sammartino knew this all too well. Sammartino would capture the WWE Championship twice throughout his wrestling career. However, it is his first title reign which is the most talked about and perhaps the most sough after record in professional wrestling.
During that first title reign, Bruno Sammartino held the WWE Championship for a grand total of 2,803 days – a record which will probably never be broken.